MP’s in the House of Commons have recently began demanding action to resolve the growing issue of unrecycled disposable coffee cups, singling out big-name coffee chains for failing to react or even suggesting ideas of how to tackle the issue and have suggested that if all cups are not recycled within five years an outright ban should be placed on them as the country has proceeded to throw away 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups a year on average.

The same MP’s are calling for a 25p “latte levy” on top of the price of a drink as they believe it will help generate the necessary funds to effectively recycle this waste and make sure that it doesn’t snowball out of control and become a major ecological issue.

After new laws have been implemented to tackle plastic bags in supermarkets and force change so that so many are not wasted, the government is now turning its attention to difficult-to-recycle cups littering the streets and clogging up the waste-disposal systems as the coffee shop market (particularly smaller businesses) is growing at a rate that this issue needs tackled quickly.

In 2016, figures showed the number of single-use plastic bags used by consumers in England dropped by more than 85 per cent in the first year of the ban.

Starbucks have begun a three-month trial of a 5p charge for disposable cups in up to 25 London stores, after previously failing with it’s 50p discount for using recyclable cups trial following researchers at Cardiff University concluding that charging 25p for every coffee cup would help cut the number used by up to 300 million a year.

Greenpeace UK oceans campaigner Fiona Nicholls said the country needs to make sure it recycles all the plastic it produces, or risk making millions of tonnes of pollution, which ends up in the food chain.

A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said the Government “will closely consider the committee’s recommendations and respond shortly”.

They added: “We are encouraged by industry action to increase the recycling of paper cups with some major retail chains now offering discounts to customers with reusable cups.”

What you can do to help?

  1. So far the MPs’ report is just a recommendation. Have your say by writing to your MP supporting the proposal.
  2. Get in touch with the Environmental Audit Committee
  3. Buy a reusable coffee cup – many cafes already offer a discount to customers who bring their own cup. You can find a selection of recommendations here.


All Espresso Underground take away cups are biodegradable and are therefore environmentally friendly!